Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw
52 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2014 Last revised: 14 Nov 2015
Date Written: February 28, 2014
Two decades of analysis have produced a rich set of insights as to how the law should apply to the Internet’s peculiar characteristics. But, in the meantime, technology has not stood still. The same public and private institutions that developed the Internet, from the armed forces to search engines, have initiated a significant shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence.
This article is the first to examine what the introduction of a new, equally transformative technology means for cyberlaw and policy. Robotics has a different set of essential qualities than the Internet and, accordingly, will raise distinct legal issues. Robotics combines, for the first time, the promiscuity of data with the capacity to do physical harm; robotic systems accomplish tasks in ways that cannot be anticipated in advance; and robots increasingly blur the line between person and instrument.
Robotics will prove “exceptional” in the sense of occasioning systematic changes to law, institutions, and the legal academy. But we will not be writing on a clean slate: Many of the core insights and methods of cyberlaw will prove crucial in integrating robotics, and perhaps whatever technology follows.
Keywords: cyberlaw, robotics, exceptionalism
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